Vasudhara: Goddess of Abundance

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Vasudhara: Goddess of Abundance

Six Armed Vasudhara. From rywiki.tsadra.org

Vasudhara (Tib. Norgyunma) is a goddess of wealth, fertility, and well-being. She blesses her worshipers with both material prosperity and spiritual wealth. Like most of the Mahayana goddesses, her heart is filled with compassion and loving-kindness toward all beings. She is the embodiment of the boundless generosity (dana), the first of the six transcendent perfections (Skt. paramitas), fundamental for the Bodhisattva path. According to the Buddhist tradition, Vasudhara is able to magically materialize the wealth for the one who chant her mantra* and perform the rituals that invoke the deity.

The goddess originated in Indian Buddhism and was later transmitted to Tibet. In India, she is compared to Lakshmi, the Hindu goddess of wealth, fortune, and abundance. Both female deities have identical iconography and often appear with their husbands. Lakshmi’s husband is Vishnu, and Vasudhara’s one is Kubera, also known as Vaishravana or Jambhala, called Dzambhala in Tibet.

The worship of Vasudhara is traced in numerous statues, manuscripts, and other religious objects. Her iconographic image carries the characteristic features of the goddesses of Mahayana pantheon with some distinction between Indian and Tibetan traditions. In Tibet she is worshiped mainly by the lay people. The monastic community traditionally prefers Tara (Tib. Drolma) for everything related to material and spiritual well-being although both deities perform the same role. As an embodiment of one of the group of twenty-one Taras, she is called ”Vasudhara granting wealth and eliminating poverty.”

In Indian Buddhist art, the goddess is depicted in yellow color, symbolizing a wealth, fertility, and the shine of spiritual vitality. Most often she is depicted in a peaceful expression, with one face and two hands. Her right hand is in varada mudra, the gesture of generosity and sometimes she holds a gemstone or a bilva fruit, symbolizing wealth. In her left hand, she holds a stem with grains, expressing the idea of accumulated harvest and abundance.

Sometimes with her left had she holds a pot with seeds and precious stones or a lotus on which the vessel is placed. Her body is in a standing or sitting posture (padmasana or lalitasana). When she is depicted in lalitasana, her right foot is placed on a vessel that is overflowing with riches or lotuses. There are also images of the goddess with four hands, in two of which she holds a gemstone and a pot of abundance, and the other two hands are in the varada and abhaya mudra, the fearless gesture.

Vasudhara and Vaishravana. From tourpedia.ru

In Tibetan art, Vasudhara appears in an iconography similar to the Indian one – yellow in color, usually with two hands. She holds a gem in her right hand and a stem with grains or a pot of wealth in the left. There are four and six-handed images that have been transmitted to Tibet from Nepal’s Newari artistic tradition. In such images the goddess is depicted with three heads (one yellow and two red) and six hands. One of her right hands is in varada mudra and the other two hold a rosary, an expression of the spiritual aspect of her welfare, and precious gems. In her left hands she holds texts, a stem with grains and a small pot. She sits in lalitasana, and her right foot is stepped on a shell, placed above the pot of wealth.

In Tibetan iconography, images of the goddess sitting beside her husband Dzambhala or in union with him are often found. In these cases she holds a stem with grains in her left hand and a rosary in the right.

In the Sakya School of Tibetan Buddhism there is a Tantric version of the goddess, red in color, with ornaments of bones holding a stem of grains or precious gems in the right hand, and a kapala (skull cup) with blood in her left hand. Her red form is also depicted in union with Dzambhala, who is in the same color.

Vasudhara is one of the symbols of material and spiritual wealth in Mahayana Buddhism of India and Tibet. Despite her popularity among laypeople, the goddess remains in the shadow of the goddess Tara.

* Om Vasudhare Svaha

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